Sunday, June 26, 2016

Burlesque (2010)

Film: Burlesque (2010)
Stars: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Kristen Bell, Eric Dane
Director: Steven Antin
Oscar History: I know you're laughing at the thought, but the film actually won the Best Original Song Golden Globe and may well have gotten Diane Warren her first Oscar had it made it through, but it sadly was skipped over for "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me"
Snap Judgment Ranking: 3/5 stars

It's Pride this weekend, and also we all need at least something to stop the madness in our lives right now (really-I cannot remember a year this volatile, and it's not even half over yet), so I am going to do a film review of a movie that I suspect no one out there can look at the photo of without both A) smiling and B) thinking "that's pretty gay," and that would be Burlesque, which I caught for the first time this week.  Sadly excused from our OVP for 2010 (more on that in a second), the film didn't do as badly as one would have expected (it bombed domestically but did well enough overseas to more than recoup its surprisingly large budget), and it's a lot more fun than you'd expect even if the broad brushstrokes of the picture are all laughably cliched.

(Spoilers Ahead) The film follows Ali (Aguilera), a waitress with big city dreams who wants to go to LA to make it big, who stumbles across a burlesque show in Los Angeles that is down on its feet despite the denials of owner Tess (Cher).  There she meets a ridiculously hot (though conveniently straight) bartender name Jack (Gigandet-remember back when he was a thing post-Twilight...come to think of it remember when all of those actors on Twilight save the two stars & Kendrick were a thing...when is their Oprah: Where Are They Now coming up?), and eventually becomes his roommate despite him having a fiance.  After begging to be in the show, Tess eventually relents when one of the girls gets pregnant, and during a sabotage from her arch-rival Nikki (Bell), Ali gets a chance to sing and as she's Christina Aguilera she doesn't skip out on the "on-pitch foghorn" thing she's so famous for (I mean that as a compliment), and suddenly the entire film transforms as she deals with being a star and what comes from such a situation.

The film, as you may imagine, is filled with cliche.  Every single scene you can see coming a mile away-there is no surprise here, except that Cher and Christina never actually do a duet on-stage, which felt like a missed opportunity.  Ali's journey to being a headliner at Tess' club is obvious from the beginning of the movie (and not just because we know Christina can sing), but it's a film that does most of these scenes with relative charm.  It helps that you cast Cher and Stanley Tucci, both very game and fun performers (every scene between the two of them is a blast) and then don't ask some of the rest of the cast to do much.  Aguilera is actually better than you'd expect (this is no Crossroads situation), though she's not about to outdo, say, what Anna Kendrick would have done in this role-she has timing, and though she's occasionally over-eager in her delivery, it's a pity this film wasn't better-received by critics as she actually has some presence onscreen (Cam Gigandet doesn't, but his role here is really just to be obnoxiously good-looking, and in that he's successful).  No one would ever confuse this with being a "good" movie, but it's also certainly not a bad one, and it's pretty fun, quite frankly.  It goes to show that the Golden Raspberry Awards are intensely sexist and (in particular) decidedly homophobic that they thought it would be funny for Cher to be nominated for Worst Supporting Actress here, since she's way too good onscreen in this picture to ever be considered a "worst supporting actress."

The film should have been Oscar-nominated in Best Original Song, however, and that's a fact.  We discussed this race over here (please click if you're newer to the blog and aren't familiar with our now hundreds of Oscar Viewing Project write-ups), but this would have been the perfect time to give Diane Warren an Oscar.  "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" is genuinely a good song, and comes in a critical moment in the film (unlike some nominees in this category in the past), and plus it's way better than anything the Academy came up with, which is admittedly not often the case for Diane Warren.  Honestly-it would have been the perfect time to honor a longtime celebrated songwriter without having to sacrifice the category, and she'd just won the Globe (and there weren't even five nominees in 2010-you wouldn't have had to bump anyone, and it's not like Randy Newman needed a second makeup Oscar).  All-in-all, one of the bigger blunders Oscar has made in recent years.

Those are my thoughts on Burlesque, a cheeky, occasionally ridiculous, but very watchable camp film. What are your thoughts?  Do you think Christina Aguilera will ever make another picture, or do you think her actress-appeal might be too limited?  How about getting Cher back in front of the camera?  And who else thinks this was Diane Warren's Oscar and AMPAS screwed it up?  Share your thoughts below!

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